Texas Creationism Debate: It’s “Einstein vs. Newton”

WE’VE SEEN some silly arguments from creationists — they’re all silly, actually — but today we may have encountered the ultimate.

In the Daily Skiff, a student newspaper of Texas Christian University (TCU), in Fort Worth, Texas. we read Professors debate creationism’s place in public schools.

The article discusses two TCU geology professors, Arthur Busbey and Helge Alsleben, who signed a petition to promote teaching evolution in public school science classrooms and prevent creationism from slipping into the curriculum.

Here are a few excerpts, with bold added by us:

According to the petition, evolutionary theory is imperative to teaching biological sciences and evidence exists that support it beyond question.

The curriculum should “encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to ‘strengths and weaknesses,'” according to the petition.

Fine. No problem. Then the article discusses the opinions of TCU faculty members on the other side. For example:

Steve Woodworth, professor of history and self-proclaimed creationist, said …he knows and appreciates both professors who signed the petition but respectfully disagrees.

“In order to promote critical thinking, they choose to promote one side?” Woodworth said. “I don’t agree with that.”

But there is only one side — scientifically speaking. However misguided that professor’s opinion may be, it’s nothing compared main reason for this article. Here are the views of another creationist TCU professor:

Charles Hannon, professor of computer science, said he also opposes the petition. He said this issue is not one of different attitudes of how teaching should be done, but a clash of worldviews.


Everything is based on some level of faith,” Hannon said. “There are sets of prerequisites that determine whether you believe in creationism or evolution. Those sets of presuppositions are going to determine not only what you are willing to accept, but also how you take your data, what you choose to be valid and invalid data.”

A creationist indeed! And then …

Hannon said in the spirit of scientific inquiry, both sides should be studied.

The point is when Einstein came along, everybody believed in Newton, and Einstein had to have the guts to go against that,” Hannon said. “Openness and willingness to accept different viewpoints is always useful in science.”

So there you have it. To that professor, a creationist challenging evolution is like Einstein challenging Newton. Einstein!

There are days, gentle reader, when we fear that all is lost.

Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Texas Creationism Debate: It’s “Einstein vs. Newton”

  1. “The point is when Einstein came along, everybody believed in Newton,…..” Hannon said.

    What rubbish. Well before Einstein proposed his theory of Relativity, it was already well known among physicists that there was *something* wrong with Newtonian physics, the behavior of the precession of Mercury’s perihelion being a notable example.

    Scientists didn’t “believe” in Newtonian physics, they “used” or “relied” on Newtonian physics because it was the best theory available prior to Relativity, and despite the fact that there was observation evidence indicating Newtonian physics gave the wrong answers under certain circumstances.

    Railing against a well-regarded theory such as Darwinian Evolution does not make one an Einstein. Einstein’s theory supplanted Newton’s because it fit the data better, and made specific testable predictions that turned out to be correct.

    A theory based on supernatural causation cannot make specific predictions, and thus is not amenable to falsification; ergo it is not scientific, per Popper.

  2. mightyfrijoles

    Science is only run by viewpoint prior to experimentation. When the data come in, the cold, hard implications of the facts yield to no viewpoint.

    Get yourself a brew. There will be more idiocies tomorrow that will make these look trivial.

    Besides, you appear to like it.

  3. “Besides, you appear to like it.”

    Only in the sense that laughing at those people keeps me from being permanently grumpy.

  4. mightyfrijoles wrote:

    “Besides, you [the Sensuous Curmudgeon] appear to like it.”

    I think you’ve identified a significant occupational hazard of engaging with the Cretards — one may develop a taste for masochistic practices.

    When it comes to Creationists, what can you do but laugh? And that’s the rub — it only really hurts when you laugh…